Objectives: To quantify the prevalence of urinary and faecal incontinence in the Australian population by deriving age and gender-specific rates of urinary and faecal incontinence from the literature. Methods: Systematic review and meta-analysis. A search of MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1995 to 2001 was performed in duplicate. The following a priori inclusion criteria were applied to studies: community based sampling frame, response rate > 65%, > 125 participants per gender group, and age and gender separation of results (stratification). Results: There were significant differences in the definitions used, the time frames of interest, and the populations surveyed. There was significant heterogeneity across studies. Overall prevalence of urinary incontinence for Australian adults was estimated to be 19.3% and 2.2% in Australian women and men, respectively. Overall prevalence of faecal incontinence was estimated to be 5.3% and 5.5% in Australian women and men, respectively. Conclusions: It is disappointing that with so many studies published in this area, there is still a lack of high quality, basic descriptive epidemiology of this important health problem. These estimates of the prevalences of urinary and faecal incontinence should assist policy making in this area.
Australasian Journal on Ageing Vol. 24, Issue 1, p. 19-27